Sunday, February 7, 2010

Having Faith.....Realistically

I got a completely random, unexpected and amazing message in my inbox the other day:

"Inspiration comes in many forms..."
"...and at the least of expected times. After randomly seeing you on FB while posting on my friends’ profile, I am inspired. Inspired to pick up my training and to rededicate myself! I know nothing of you personally, only what I see. I see your hard work & dedication. I see sacrifice, love of the sport, work ethics. I see an uncanny competitive drive. I see you reaching out with your writing/blogs. I see you sharing knowledge. That is inspiration. That speaks volumes of a person’s ability, I am sure the pay off at the finish line is the best...No doubt!! Like I said, inspiration comes in many forms and at the least of expected times…so thank you!


Wow. That brought tears to my eyes. One of my goals is to inspire people, and it looks like I'm starting to do just that.

After getting this message, I decided I want to write a post that's not easy for me to talk about, but something I find important to address.


The other night we were at a RAHA meeting with the cycling team. Brad, our manager, introduced us, the new RAHA Women's Triathlon Team, to the crowd. He said some really nice things about our potential, and it got me thinking about something that's been on the back of my mind.

I consider myself extremely lucky to be on a team with three amazing female athletes. Tatiana and Lauren truly have what it takes to go pro within the next year. Their results, their talent, their dedication... it's all there. I believe Sara has what it takes, too, hands down, but being that her race resume only has one 70.3 on it so far, I think this year will be her year to shine and show her elite status in long course. (Her sprint/Olympic race results are stellar.)

Then there's me. Yes, I do believe I have talent, and hell ya I have the dedication, but when it comes to being "pro status" I'm just not there. I want to be there, and I hope to be there one day, but realistically I don't yet have the experience nor do I have a freakish genetic gift to make up for lack of experience. Last season in 20-24 AG I was extremely lucky to have 10+ podium finishes and qualify for Clearwater, but on the overall outcomes, I'm waaaay down on the list.

That's ok with me.

A couple good friends recently told me to be patient and wait for "Year 3." They said that's when things really start to fall into place with this sport....2010 will be my "year 2." Ohhh, I'm being patient. I wouldn't survive in triathlon without patience.

If you look at my RAHA teammates, they're all into their "Year 3" and beyond:

Tatiana qualified and competed in the Ironman World Championships in 2007 and was practically a pro tennis player before that. Lauren played volleyball all through college and transitioned into triathlon in '07 as a powerhouse. Sara was a pro soccer player in Europe and is on her "year 3" (maybe even 4th year?) in triathlon.

Keep a close eye on these girls this year, they're NO joke.

Meanwhile, expect me to race my hardest in 2010, but within realistic parameters of my current ability level. It makes more sense if you look at my background compared with the "lifelong athletes"....

I partied a ton during high school and San Diego State, while maintaining an active lifestyle full of exercise... but on a total recreational, non-committed, non-structured basis. Didn't care about "pace" or performance, only that I burned calories and stayed in shape. Yea, I tried a handful of races in 2007, but that "season" of triathlon consisted of about four attempts to survive s-b-r without proper training. I didn't even get a bike until summer '07. (Sure, In my head I was trying to be competitive, but oh man I had no idea what I was doing! Soma Olympic took me more than 3 hours I think.)

Then injury struck in 2008. I wanted to do more training and triathlons, but instead ALL of that year was spent pinpointing an nagging knee injury, getting surgery for that injury and recovering. Thankfully, my knee injury--plica syndrome--was super minor on the grand scheme, and I don't have to worry about it coming back to haunt me like other knee injuries.

Even with a virtually raceless 2008, it was an important year of development. Plica syndrome changed me. It gave me a new focus and the desire to step it up in sport 110%. It gave me the drive to be like the Tatianas, Laurens and Saras of the world.

So I stepped it up. Take my swimming as an example: In late 2008 I jumped into the pool for the first time. Sure, in 2007 I "swam" about 700-yard sessions here and there before toe cramps would hit. But my 6 a.m. outdoor class in winter 2008 was where my swimming really began. At first, I could barely hang on for a set of 50s @ 1:15... or 100s @ 2:30 (I'd come in at ~2:00). Plus, according to my coach, I couldn't even breathe properly. Oh yea, and I wore fins. Ha!

But now, early 2010, things are coming along in the pool...slowly. I swim for ~3,000 yards each session, I can do a set of 100s @ 1:45, while 20x50 @ 1:00 is no big deal. And fins? Only use 'em on kicking sets. Plus, I'm starting to learn backstroke and breast stroke... It's very ugly, but I have to start somewhere if I want to be in a legit Masters group!

The same story can be applied to my biking and running.

So, again, what's the point of this?!

For one: I'm NOT trying to be a sandbagger. Nor am I whining about not being good enough. I'm truly being honest, and honestly, it's a little embarrassing/hard for me to admit this stuff--admit that I'm not "the best." I'm a perfectionist (a personal flaw to some level) and I always want to be at the top--whether in school, work or sport--but triathlon is especially humbling. It's taught me a lot about dreaming big while not being too harsh on myself.

So as this season unfolds, I've set reasonable goals: I want to beat my 70.3 times from last year in respective races and improve as an triathlete on all fronts. It's not just about finishing times, it's the experience and growth as an athlete that matters. Proper training, diet, balance, etc, included.

Of course, hauling ass to get podium finishes and World Championship qualifications is ideal, but that will come with time. Just like doing a full Ironman--no rush.


In the meantime, my goal is also to continue to inspire and help others.... the J.Moose's of the world. I'm in the midst of a high-level education in order to be a master at understanding the human body & sports performance.... even if my own body isn't capable of such mastery in sport.

My other goal is to support, cheer on and brag about my RAHA teammates. I am just so thankful to be included in the same sentence as them. How did I get so damn lucky? I guess stalking the tri world has paid off ;-)

I can't wait for this year to get going!!!!


  1. dude, you ARE A STUD(ETTE)!! did you forget to mention the 20,000 jobs, classes, personal training, etc etc that you manage on top of training for your personal goals???
    I have no doubt all 4 of us have what it takes to reach the pinnacle of this sport. So happy you're on my team, along with Lauren & Sara,- it'll be fun being a part of your road to pro.
    if i have to drill more confidence into your head- i'll do my best!

  2. yes, great post!

    merry christmas and a happy successfull 2010!

  3. Great post! You are an inspiration and I wish you the best in the coming year.

  4. Awesome and I KNOW exactly what you mean!!! Your going to grow and grow SOOO much in the sport over the next few years :)

  5. Great post, Tawnie - I try to keep this in mind: It's not necessary to be the best in anything, but to always try to be the best. Keeps my head on straight.

    Good luck with everything this year!

  6. stalker!

    best of luck this year Tawnee!

    2010 goals: KICK ASS

  7. You're going to ROCK this season! Do work, make the mistakes, learn from them right away, keep moving forward. You've got a lot of heart and it shows. The fact that you're still discovering your true potential should be enough to keep you and the rest of us motivated and inspired :)

    Go team RAHA!!